A contract deadline has been set for shortly after midnight Monday going into Tuesday morning, when CBS could possibly remove its CBS and CW stations from Dish subscribers.
One of the longest running series in the history of modern TV rolled out yet another new episode, as subscribers to Dish Network’s DBS service again face the loss of CBS’s local TV stations across the nation.
If the two companies cannot reach a new retransmission agreement, he CBS and CW O&Os will go dark on the DBS service at 1 a.m. tomorrow morning, which would be midnight in Denver where Dish Network is headquartered.
The latest dispute does not any of the CBS’s cable channels — such as Showtime.
As of 4 a.m. ET this morning, neither company had released any further information.
CBS owns local broadcast stations in most of the nation’s biggest markets, including: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, San Francisco, Boston, Atlanta, Detroit, Seattle, Miami, Tampa, Minneapolis, Denver, Pittsburgh, and Baltimore. The network owns eight CW stations.
It was exactly three years ago today that Dish Network and CBS went through the exact same exercise regarding the CBS local stations and national programming networks.
After a series of short extensions, the CBS broadcast stations left the DBS service for about 12 hours beginning on the night of Dec. 12, 2014, before the two sides announced a new agreement and the CBS locals returned to Dish Network.
It would appear the three-year retrans agreement reached then is slated to expire tonight. A new complication this time around might be Dish Network’s Sling TV on-line video service. Sling TV is the only major full-scale on-line video service that does not distribute the CBS owned stations. Showtime reached an agreement to be sold by Sling TV in April, for $10 per month.
In an e-mailed statement last night, Dish Network said, “Even as more and more Dish [Network] customers turn to [off-air TV] antennas for free access to their local channels, we recognize that many continue to rely on their pay-TV package to get these stations.
For those customers, we are actively working to reach a fair deal before the contract expires knowing that only CBS can force a blackout of its channels.”
In a full-screen message posted on an adjacent channel to the CBS local stations on the DBS service, which is labeled in the on-screen guide as CBS “threatens channel removal,” Dish Network wrote: “CBS is threatening to block access to one or more of your channels.
At Dish [Network], we believe the customer should always come first. That is why we work hard to bring you the best programming at a fair price.”
In a message on the website, the DBS service operates regarding retransmission consent disputes, Dish Network wrote, “You may have seen a message from CBS telling you that you could lose your local channel. The truth is, only CBS can black out their channel.”
Dish Network urged its customers to call CBS, listed the company’s main telephone number in New York, and said “demand they stop these antics and focus on getting a deal done.”
CBS did not respond to two emails sent to four different company press representatives over the weekend. Several of the CBS broadcast stations ran ads over the weekend warning their viewers they “could soon lose CBS.”
The ad mentioned a handful of the sports telecasts and series consumers would be unable view if the channels exited Dish Network. Some of the stations also ran a crawl at the bottom of the screen with similar wording.
CBS also set up two websites, one for CBS and one for CW. “Over the past several months, CBS has been resolute in our efforts to secure a fair carriage deal with Dish [Network]. Unfortunately, Dish [Network], a company that has dropped nearly 400 stations since 2013, is not operating with the same sense of urgency,” the message on one of the website states.
“CBS would very much like to avoid going dark, but unless an agreement is reached our viewers should be prepared to lose CBS from their Dish [Network service]” tonight/tomorrow morning. The same message appears on the CW website. Among the markets where CBS owns CW stations are San Francisco, Detroit, Atlanta, and Seattle.
CBS and Dish Network’s disputes over retransmission consent and wholesale programming fees go back to when the DBS service was owned by Echostar and CBS was still part of Viacom.
The first high-profile of such impasses publicly ignited on March 9, 2004, when the CBS local stations and 10 basic channels left the DBS service. The night before, in a special uplink to subscribers, Dish Network/Echostar Chairman and co-founder Charles William Ergen said the programmer “tried to extort higher fees out of” consumers and the talks were “the most outrageous contract negotiations I’ve ever been involved in.” That brouhaha was settled two days later.
Satellite Business News is a leader in coverage of satellite TV and related fields. Its FaxUPDATE is published three times a week. To subscribe, email [email protected].